Cassovia architect Ľudovít Oelschläger: Öry Lajos (1896 – 84)

Adriana Priatková


An architect Ľudovít (Ludwig) Oelschläger – Őry Lajos (1896 – 1984), probably the most important, but among the public not very known, representative of the interwar architecture who, in his most fruitful period of life, worked in Košice (1924 – 1945). It was in Košice, his hometown, as well as in Eastern Slovakia and former Carpathian Ruthenia (Podkarpatskej Rusi), which was part of Czechoslovakia at that time, where he left the work of extraordinary quality that still appeals to experts as well as the general public.

He was born in a rich German evangelical family in Košice, coming from the Spiš Region. In family he learnt to respect the past and acquired classical education. The intellectual and spiritual atmosphere of his hometown, part of Austria-Hungary Monarchy until the end of World War I, was close to that of Budapest, where he acquired university education. After finishing his study, he made a longer study trip to Germany (1921 – 1922) during which he acquainted himself with the latest European knowledge in the field.

The initial period of his work was closely connected with the Hungarian architecture of that time. His perception of the Hungarian architecture was influenced by the work of his Budapest colleagues, peers, Bogdanfy and Gerloczy in their Budapest architectural studio (1923). The specific quality of Oelschläger’s architectural early work was to a great extent influenced by 5-year close cooperation with a Hungarian architect, G. Z. Bosko (1924 – 1929), who probably came to Kosice with the architect. The Orthodox synagogue and school in Košice is probably the most impressive result of their cooperation (1925, 1926 – 1927, 1933, NKP). The synagogue was built almost concurrently with the Neologic synagogue in Kosice (1924, 1926 – 1927, NKP) designed by L. Kozma, an architect from Budapest.

In the early 1930s the author’s style started to shift towards simplicity. Oelschläger gradually, in his own way, transforming the significant influence of European Modernism, abandoned his special style of abstraction of historical conception and started to design his first works of art that reflect modernist formal, structural and dispositional preferences of the functional architecture. His individual projects sensitively respond to the locality, the construction typology class, and the client’s requirements. Modernism gradually became a symbol of status of not only higher but also middle classes in Eastern Slovakia.

In the late 1930s, probably under the influence of adverse political situation and clients’ demands, the architect returned to the historical conception of architecture, in his special combination with modernism, eclectically combining various inputs into an acceptable whole. In 1945 he and his family were forced to leave Košice. He spent the rest of his life in Budapest (1984).

Keywords: architect, Košice, Hungary, Ľudovít Oelschläger, Öry Lajos, architecture, Slovakia